Born in Bristol and currently based in Berlin, director, vocalist, emcee, actor and musician Tricky is arguably one of most influential pioneers of trip-hop both as a member of renowned trip-hop collective Massive Attack and as a solo artist. And throughout his lengthy career, the Bristol-born and Berlin-based artist has a long-held reputation for being uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole as his work possess elements of American and British hip-hop, rock, dub, reggae, and punk rock. He’s also been known for a lengthy list of collaborations with renowned artists including Terry Hall, Bjork, Gravediggaz, Grace Jones, Live, PJ Harvey, and others.
After the release of 2014’s Adrian Thaws, Tricky relocated to Berlin and quickly began work on his latest musical project, Skilled Mechanics. As the internationally renowned artist explained in press notes, the project takes its name “from a documentary about espionage. There was an ex-C.I.A. agent on this programme speaking about assassins who were sent abroad by the US to start revolutions and topple governments. He called them ‘skilled mechanics.’ I thought that was a great name for someone who was a killer basically. The name was so dark and cynical it just stuck with me.”
Conventionally speaking, when a known solo artist forms a band, its frequently considered a sign that the solo artist in question is sick of the spotlight and wants to fade into something much larger than themselves but for someone as iconoclastic as Tricky, the exact opposite is true. As the story goes, over the years people have voiced frustration over what they perceive as his habit of playing second fiddle to his variety of female collaborators. “People have been asking me for years, ‘Will you ever take charge vocally? Will you ever lead as the singer on one of your albums?’ On Adrian Thaws, my last album, I came to the forefront vocally. I was more in your face on three of the tracks but I wanted to build even further towards a catalogue of songs where I didn’t rely on a girl singer. But I realised it would be hard to do under the name Tricky because people would always associate that name with me using a female singer. I haven’t been alone at the front of the stage on my own since before I released my first album Maxinquaye 20 years ago. I needed to change. It is good to change and to keep on pushing yourself,” Tricky explained in press notes.